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Poster: O Dub Date: Jul 17, 2009 6:30pm
Forum: zzaj Subject: Zzaj Production's Three Free CDs

Free Spirit Suites and Strange Attractors have a bit more in common than Elements Of Suspense. On the first two, the keyboard work reminds me of music that both Jeff Beck and Allan Holdsworth have wailed over, but of course, Zzaj and company have their own styles.

On Suites the opening keyboards are very oceanic – the feeling reminds me of camping on deserted beaches in Panama. Of course, as the grooves kick in it feels more like driving on the Pacific Coast Highway. Somewhere along the way our protagonists make a pit-stop in a funky dance club, although it could be on Neptune and not the California coast. Towards the end of Suites we return to the sea, descending or perhaps sailing out into a Pacific Northwest sunset. I find myself wanting to hear a kick-ass drummer on these sessions, but perhaps that goes against the grain of the intent … a moody dreamscape headphone kind-of trip.

Strange Attractors, a precursor to Suites, on the other hand, is a little more bubbly, a little more straight-ahead in delivery. The occasional forays into foreign territory gain frequency towards the end of the disc. In the final track, we return to dreamland. And it’s a long dream, too, clocking in at 27:40. In a way it could have been a blueprint for Suites.

Elements Of Suspense reminds me of Scott Johnson’s work. Does anyone remember his 1986 album John Somebody? On a radio interview from that time, he said there was this whole pool of material for composers [and improvisers – let me add] just waiting to be tapped. The guys on Elements sure are tapping it! Elements could also fall somewhere between Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy and Civilization Phase III, but not quite. No need to place it, as there are probably more people working in this general territory than we know. Maenad was doing excellent work in this genre, but good luck tracking her down, or Scott Johnson for that matter, or even more playful artists like Ariane Moffatt ... but let’s get back to the music in question, which Rotcod Zzaj is graciously offering for free. In appreciation, I will juggle a bit and re-present them this way:

Strange Attractors – most straight-ahead
Elements Of Suspense – most experimental
Free Spirit Suites – most heart

This post was modified by O Dub on 2009-07-18 01:30:32